INDIANAPOLIS – Bill Puterbaugh, the 1975 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, died Monday. He was 81 years old.
He made three consecutive Indianapolis 500 starts from 1975-77. Puterbaugh had 30 starts in United States Auto Club (USAC) National Championship competition between 1966 and 1979 and scored 11 top-10 finishes, including one each in the 500-Mile races in 1975 at Indianapolis and Pocono and in 1976 at Ontario, California. An oval track specialist, Puterbaugh ranked within the top 10 drivers in four different seasons in the 1970s for what later became the USAC Silver Crown series, finishing third behind Mario Andretti and Al Unser in 1973 in the Springfield (Illinois) 100-mile event and second to Bill Vukovich II in 1979 at Du Quoin, Illinois. A five-time race winner in USAC Sprint Car competition, Puterbaugh ranked third in points in 1969 behind Gary Bettenhausen and Larry Dickson.